Torchwood Revisited part 1

While the fourth series of Torchwood was about to start I decided to go back and re watch every episode right from its entirety and re evaluate it.  Originally I couldn’t get on with the first series but I still sat through every episode religiously because I knew there would be a reference to some episode of Doctor Who or other.  I also prayed that it would improve and not go the way of K9 and Company, because there was something nice in knowing there’s a little more of the Who universe continuing while the beeb made the next series of Doctor Who.  I still haven’t got around to watching the Australian K9, but give me time.  I originally found the so called adult content was quite frankly a little childish.  And apart from Captain Jack and the drop dead sexy Gwen, I thought the rest of the cast were a little 2 dimensional, which is a shame as I have seen some of them in other programs and they’re perfectly fine actors.  Either they were badly cast or the characters were simply misused.  The most laughable episode was the Cyber Woman debacle.  Bad acting, bad dialogue and some dodgy running around a table Keystone cops style.

The second series certainly picked up and about two thirds were really excellent stories.  The adult themes became less about swearing and sex and more about really good intelligent plots.  One of the most amazing episodes was the one with the missing persons.  The scene where the woman meets her child as an adult and he screams is heartbreaking.  Also the episodes concerning Tosh were a highlight.

The only thing I remember spoiling series two is the relationship between Captain Jack and Yentob.  For me it did nothing to the plot and I wasn’t vaguely bothered when he died in series three.  I know hardcore fans were up in arms about it, but I just knew we could dispense with that nonsense and get on with the stories.  And having Owen become the living dead felt a little too close to Captain Jack being immortal.

However the third series Children of Earth was so good it was better than the recent Doctor Who specials which were considerably lukewarm.  Torchwood was a more than welcome return.  And I was also pleased that PC Andy got more a meaty role as I know Tom Price from way back and really like his character.  I saw Tom many years ago in an excellent play about Graham Chapman called A Very Naughty Boy that was written by the very talented Adrian Poynton who wrote the TV series White Van Man.

I’ve only ever watched each episode once and in hindsight a programme is better when you re evaluate it.  Yes, this is incredibly geeky of me and I know I should be spending more time writing material for my Edinburgh show and my millions of other projects like making a website for one of the newly extended family and booking gigs and getting ready for my masters degree and doing Lego animation etc etc rarrrr!

But fuck it, here goes.

Torchwood 0101 Everything Changes
Now I seem to remember not enjoying this episode too much.  It all appeared a bit predictable the first time round and some of the swearing was a bit childish and crow barred in, but in hindsight I really enjoyed it.  I think the rest of the cast were a lot more believable because they weren’t in it much, but I wasn’t too keen on Suzie Costello as a character.  Especially at the end.  Her heartfelt speech was pretty cringe worthy and over the top.  However I don’t want to be too harsh on the first episode, because they obviously still hadn’t found their feet.  I was also a little miffed at the time, as to me this was just a modernised UNIT in the 21st century, but as the series progressed it was obvious that this was anything but UNIT and it would be unlikely that UNIT would downsize from an army that likes to blow up anything they don’t understand to a team of 5 that have minimal military training.  There were talks of a UNIT series but it the problem was they would be likely to just blow everything up at the end of each episode.  What’s so wrong with that?  Anyone who watched the thermite experiments on Braniacs will attest to the power of repeatedly watching things being destroyed in the name of mind numbing entertainment.

I enjoyed the way they didn’t try and go for a big monster or an elaborate plot to hook us in.  It was more subtle than that and it had a bleak feel to it.  To know that the Torchwood team were only going to the murder scenes simply to try out the glove is dark stuff.  Then to find out Suzie was doing the murders was totally unexpected.  The scene where Owen Harper goes to the bar to pick up the woman is totally redundant and I never really believed in his character till he does interesting things like pretends to be a seafood importer to gain entry to the Alien Fight Club.  This where he comes into his own or maybe I’m just jealous because he gets it on with Gwen in later episodes.  Speaking of which, the best moment is Gwen sitting at the dressing table in her nightie.  So for being the pilot episode and the nightie I give this episode

7 out of 10

Torchwood 0102
Ah.  I remember rolling my eyes a lot through this episode.  This is the one with the sex alien.  So to be a more adult version of Doctor Who we have to have a monster that shags in the toilets.  Who’s the back up?  A Dalek with a plunger to unblock the u-bend?  Also the bouncer wanking in the office was a mildly amusing joke, but by that time I felt that I’d been beaten round the head with the big black cock of smut a little too much for a sci-fi show.  No wonder they called it Torch “wood”.  But as I’m slowly finding, there’s some nice subtle bits to the show.  Owen being sexist towards Gwen is just a bit of flirting that will come to fruition later in the series.  The seeds were being sewn if you pardon the expression.

Now I’ve often complained about Russell T Davis jarring plotlines by gratuitously throwing in gay references, but on an artistic level it was a stroke of creative genius and one of the most excellent plot devices since Citizen Kane and The Seventh Seal to have Gwen in a lesbian grapple with a teenage girl possessed by nymphomaniac alien made of gas in a dingy cell.  Oh yes.

The whole Jack Harkness/severed hand in the jar was confusing at first but now it’s obvious.  I wasn’t expecting the show to have such a connection with Doctor Who right from the start, so that threw me.  Because as you know this is the Doctor’s severed hand from The Christmas Invasion

However I was a little disappointed with the ending.  Just to have the alien escape, run around for a bit and then get caught with the portable prison was a little drab and predictable in an episode that showed a lot of promise.  But it does have some great moments.  I really liked the way Gwen just couldn’t listen to Rhys.  It echoes what Suzie said at the end of the last episode about how the job eats you up and how difficult it is to go back to normal life.  Not an amazing story, but I’m more impressed the second time around.

6 out of 10

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About Mike Belgrave

I am Mike Belgrave, stand up comedian. animator, outsider music musicologist, shambolic ukulele player and music video director extraordinaire.
This entry was posted in Doctor Who, Mike Belgrave's Doctor Who blog, Torchwood. Bookmark the permalink.

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